As we continue our series today, Beautifully Human...
We focus on the beauty of humans and the power in their stories…
Through telling their stories we hope to connect this world. To spread strength, love, and humanity...
To show a common thread of beautiful humans…
This week we go to Ashland, Ohio with Michelle Frank to hear her incredible story...
I have known Michelle a very long time. I knew her throughout high school, but when we lifeguarded together after my senior year of high school that is when we became super close.
A memory that always makes me laugh from that summer was sweeping the deep end of the pool with her mom watching, she was our amazing and wonderful boss, and I got it in my head that I would pull my shorts down with my ass out and dive down to the bottom. I would yell before I did this "Look a seashell"! I wanted everyone to look as my ass flew out of the water.
Recently speaking with Michelle she informed me this was now a tradition at her personal pool with her children! I could not stop laughing when she told me!
Michelle and I ran into each other at a grocery store almost two years ago now, crazy, when I was not looking very well.
We decided we needed to catch up so she invited me over for dinner. Michelle, Lance, and I had a really awesome time catching up.
I told them about my struggles with drinking and what I was working through with my health.
The love and strength they gave me was incredible. No judgement.
I remember getting messages throughout the time since we hung out as I have gotten healthier of encouragement and celebration for my progress. Michelle is the kind of person you want in your corner in life.
Michelle is such a kind and beautiful human. What an incredible friend. I cherish our friendship from then and the fact that we have reconnected.
I consider myself incredible lucky to have such a wonderful friend like Michelle.
Let’s all be beautifully human…
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Michelle Frank / Ashland, Ohio
Tell me a story that shaped your life…
- My now husband and I met on the high jump pit in 7th grade track. We were both tall and gangly with these long legs (and apparently very sub-par runners, despite our coaches’ efforts), so we were both introduced to high jump. I don’t remember our exact meeting or even much of our first years as friends, but our friendship continued to grow stronger and by the last couple years of high school, he was one of my best friends. He’s the guy that everyone loves-- the loveable class clown who can somehow always get out of trouble with his grin and goofy charm. We went to each other’s games, over to each other’s houses, and even went on our college visits together. He ended up committing to play basketball at Wittenberg and I eventually ended up deciding on Wittenberg as well (he loves to tell people that I followed him there-- I didn’t. But it surely didn’t hurt having him there). In May of our freshman year, Lance asked me to go grab dinner with him one night the following week. We had eaten plenty of meals together before, so I didn’t think anything of it. Well the day we had planned on ended up being W Day-- a surprise day that the university cancels classes and they have a concert and food trucks and all the things in the Hollow.
I was dating a fellow basketball player of Lance’s at the time and ended up hanging with him and a mix of our friends all afternoon/evening, totally oblivious to the fact that I had made dinner plans with Lance. We ended up running into Lance and some of our other friends late in the evening and Lance would barely look at me, let alone speak to me. It was so odd and I was so confused as to why I couldn’t get him to talk to me. He had been drinking for a good chunk of the day, so I chalked it up to that and kind of forgot about it. We never spoke of it again and I never remembered that we were supposed to have had dinner. I know that sounds harsh, but truly it seemed so casual when he asked that zero flags were raised in my head, and I didn’t have a reason to be super aware of it.
Fast forward a few months and we have been home for the summer, hanging out with each other as usual, and me still dating the fellow basketball player. A group of our high school friends decided to all go camping over one of the last weekends before we all left for school again, and Lance and I ended up alone toward the end of the second night. This is when it all came out-- that he had asked me to dinner back in May to tell me about how much he cared about me and always has and that he wanted to be more than friends. I was floored, but also thrilled. I think for a long time both of us had felt that way about one another, but neither ever said anything because our friendship was so great how it was and neither of us wanted to jeopardize it. The next day he drove me home and I had to rush to work so I ran up to my room and changed, but asked him to not tell my mom while I was upstairs because I wanted to.
My mom LOVED Lance. Literally called him ‘her perfect boy,’ so I knew she would be over the moon about it and I was excited to tell her. When I came back down, not 5min later, they were both starting at me with these ridiculous grins on their faces and I knew instantly that Lance had spilled the beans. But clearly he was very excited to tell her, so how could I be upset about that?! I called the guy I was dating within the hour and told him it wasn’t going to work out-- he would find out sooner than later why. I think he was one of the first people to see Lance and I back on campus, holding hands. Whoops. That guy was great and I had zero complaints about our relationship, but I knew in my heart and soul, without a shadow of a doubt, that Lance was the person I was supposed to be with. The funniest part about all of it is that when we went back to school and told people that we were now a couple, lots of people were really confused because they assumed we already were since we spent so much time together. HA.
Lance and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage and there still isn’t a shadow of a doubt that he is who I am supposed to be with. He is my person and I am so grateful to get to share my life with him.
Tell me a story that almost ruined your life…
- Ruin is a strong word-- I don’t know that I have experienced anything that would have potentially ruined my life had it gone another way, but I surely made a choice in which the alternative would have created a totally different life for me. Adjusting to my first semester of college was difficult for me- not having the structure, comfort, and familiarity of home and embarking on this brand new experience of living ‘on my own’ with total strangers was very overwhelming for me. To add to the struggle, I had a high school boyfriend still back at home and attending our local university. I begged my mom for the last 2 months of the semester to let me transfer back home and she was not having it. Sorority recruitment was to happen in January when we came back from Christmas break, and she encouraged me to try that and see what happened and see how I felt then.
In my brain I was absolutely not a sorority girl and had zero expectation that I would be joining one at the end of recruitment, but sure enough I really enjoyed my rush process and ended up pledging a sorority. My high school boyfriend and I broke up during this process because he didn’t want me to be in a sorority, as it would surely turn me into a horrible person (which is a whole story in itself-- EW). As we all know, mothers know best and of course she was right to have pushed me out of my comfort zone. I met some of my very best friends those weeks of recruitment and they gave me a home away from home. Not only did I not become a horrible person, I was actually able to have the freedom and new experiences to grow into an even better version of myself. Tell me a story that enriched your life…
- I think moving back to our hometown has been one of the biggest things to enrich not only my life, but my family’s life as well. Lance and I went away for college, then moved to North Carolina for a year, and then to Cincinnati. Cincinnati was wonderful to us- I went to grad school at Xavier and landed my dream job in the ICU at Cincinnati Children’s, Lance began his soon to be very successful sales career, and we made incredible friends.
We made a tough choice to move to Columbus when our child care situation changed, with the goal of being closer to family but still in a bigger city for me to work in a children’s hospital. We were in Columbus for two years and with a husband traveling 2 weeks/month, two little kids, and very few friends, I felt very isolated and led to me being really unhappy in Columbus. After lots and lots of discussion and weighing the pros and cons, we decided to move to Ashland. We were a little unsure, but ultimately knew that the smaller, close-knit community is what we wanted for our kids.
We were extremely lucky to find a wonderful home in a great neighborhood, filled with some really incredible people. Our kids ride their bikes with the ‘hood squad, stopping to play in the creek or the woods, and house hopping when they get bored at one place or another. Lance and I grew up here and obviously already knew some people, but the best part is that we have had the opportunity to meet so many new people, a few of which are in the neighborhood as well and have become dear friends.
I have been offered multiple opportunities in the community since being back from the connections I have, either from growing up here or from the people I have gotten to meet, and it has been really cool. We finally have our village of support and a community to truly be a part of, and for that we are very grateful.
Tell me a story that enriched another life…
- I don’t have a specific story for this, but honestly this is kind of my goal in life in general-- as a mom, wife, friend, and nurse. As a mom I hope to enrich my children’s lives by teaching them to be kind, loving, respectful, confident, appreciative, and hard-working. As a wife I hope to enrich my husband’s life by giving him an equal partner and my unconditional love and support.
As a friend I hope to enrich my friends’ lives by being their cheerleader and safe place to experience whatever emotion it is that they need to release. And I hope to enrich my patients’ lives by not only doing my best to keep them healthy (both mentally and physically), but by also being a trusted professional to confide in, if needed.
Tell me a story of crazy life…
- Anyone that knows me knows that I am the exact opposite of crazy. Being a Type A control freak doesn’t lend itself to many unplanned or risky behaviors, but I’m working on it! Quite possibly the only ‘crazy’ thing that I have done was for my and my husband’s first wedding anniversary. When we first got married we decided to follow the traditional gift categories for our anniversaries because we thought it could be kind of cool to do.
Well the first year’s gift is paper. We had always talked about wanting to go skydiving, so I decided to book us a skydive and the reservation/ticket would be the paper. I had these grand plans of keeping it a total secret until we actually arrived at the jump location, but I was getting so nervous the night before that I had to spill the beans. He was so surprised and excited and we actually had a really great time doing it.
Even for all of you Type A folks out there, I promise it is worth the experience to totally release control for just a little bit!
Tell me a story of hope…
- I don’t want to get too political, but the result of the Presidential election is the story of hope that is in the forefront of my mind right now. The outcome had me shedding tears of relief, of happiness, and of hope.
Hope that our country can move forward and come together to better the lives of ALL people who live here and call the United States home-- with liberty and justice for all.
Tell me a story of life…
- If you knew my amazing momma you know the kind of person she was. She was kind and compassionate, always putting others before herself and constantly going out of her way to help someone else. For the purest reason of all- because she genuinely wanted to. My mom was a true people person and the kind of lady that people felt immediately drawn to.
She was also the kind of lady that was immediately friends with anyone she met and quickly gave them a nickname, as if they had been friends for years (she was notorious for doing so with the ‘helpers’ at any given store). She had the biggest heart and loved fiercely. And one of the things I admire most about her (from a long list) is that love was inclusive of EVERYONE- no matter the age, gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, etc.
She showed her love in many ways, but probably one of the most infamous was her hugs. If you ever had the privilege of being on the receiving end of one of her hugs, you know why. My mom had a huge personality and a true passion for life. It’s funny- if you knew her, you know that she LOVED the sun. And as a person she absolutely embodied that, spreading light and warmth and happiness to those around her.
One of the best pieces of advice my sister and I were given after she died was to live our lives the way she lived hers. And let me tell you, that is no small task. I’m not sure I will ever live up to it, but we both try to do so and feel like it is a great way to remember her and to honor her amazing life.
If you think of it today, pass along some kindness and love to someone. Throw an extra big smile someone’s way, give someone a little extra grace, wave to a stranger, give a store helper a nickname, help out a friend, or give someone a really amazing hug. Spread some sunshine around- she would love it.
Lord knows we need more people like her in this world, and all of these things are small, yet impactful things we can do to spread a little more love around.
What would you want the world to know about you…
- I think most of all, I would want the world to know that I am still learning and growing, still becoming the person I am meant to be. Over the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to really do some soul searching and digging into myself and my morals/beliefs and what I want to stand for in life. It wasn’t easy, but I am really happy to have done the introspection because it helped me to be both better as a person and also increasingly comfortable in my own skin.
My entire life I have been a people pleaser and a total avoider of confrontation or disagreement and I am finding that the more time I spend truly looking inward and figuring myself out, the more I shed my people pleaser layer. And I have to say, it feels really good to not have to carry that extra weight of constantly worrying what others think of me.
Obviously this is a journey and it is far from over, but I am really proud of the work that I have done so far and plan to continue to learn and grow for as long as I am able.
What did/do you miss most during covid 19…
- I miss not having an undercurrent of anxiety whenever I go to the store, get together with a small group of friends, see my in-laws, or send my kids to school. Thankfully I live in a small town and we have not been impacted by COVID nearly as much as bigger towns and cities, but of course the anxiety of a pandemic is always around.
My anxiety doesn’t lie in me, my husband, or children contracting it, but more my in-laws and others who have co-morbidities or are immunocompromised. At the beginning of COVID and lockdown we didn’t let my in-laws close to us or the kiddos because we were so worried about giving it to them and it was really hard on both them and our kids. I will never forget when my 5 year old son saw my mother-in-law as she was dropping something off on our porch and he ran out to give her a hug. She hesitated because she didn’t know what to do because they hadn’t been in contact, and my son immediately sensed her hesitation and read her face, stopped and turned back around, and ran away crying because he didn’t think she wanted to hug him.
It was absolutely heartbreaking and sent my mother-in-law into tears. We of course explained to him why she hesitated, but his hurt in that moment was still very real. From that moment on, my in-laws decided that they were not going to be separated from our kids any longer. It still worries me to have them around, but at the end of the day they are two educated adults and are entitled to make their own decision about their risks and potential exposures.
We are all heightened to not only the risk to us but to the risk of others as well, and I think the constant, sometimes conscious/sometimes subconscious anxiety is really taking a toll on all of us.
What brings you the most joy/smile the most...
- My family and friends, hands down. I am a self-proclaimed introverted extrovert, so I do need my space every now and then, but most of the time my soul/’cup’ is filled by spending time with those I love and that love me back.
There is just something so freeing and comforting about the privilege to truly just be yourself with those that love you, knowing that you can exist with zero judgement and that they will give you all the grace in the world when you need it most.
If you were given a plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go…
- Gosh, I want to experience so many more places in my lifetime, but if I had to nail down just one for now, it would be Ireland and Scotland.
I have both Irish and Scottish heritage (I get my love of plaid honestly!) and I get very nerdy about some genealogy, so I would love to go explore and experience the culture that part of my family came from.
What brought you to where you are at in life today…
- I am overwhelmed a bit by this question. I mean we are all existing in our current states because of a summation of every single decision we personally have made or that was made for us, some giant and carefully thought out decisions, and other tiny, assumingly inconsequential ones. I suppose if I had to pinpoint specific events that brought me here, I would note the following.
Being raised by a single mother-- her work ethic and love for her girls, her family, her students, and her friends was almost unconceivable. More than anything else, she taught me to work hard and love hard.
Having a father with a (mostly untreated) mental illness
Participating in 7th grade track (where my husband and I met and became BFFs x7 years before we started dating!)
Attending Wittenberg University and joining a sorority
Growing up in a small town, but making the decision to live elsewhere and experience a wider life perspective
The sudden, very unexpected death of my mom
Having an incredible support system in my family and friends
Earning my Master’s in nursing
Marrying the best dude on the planet
Having our 2 children
Working in pediatric ICU
Choosing to move back to said small town
Going back to school (yet again!) for my Post-Masters Family Nurse Practitioner certificate
What is your most prized possession…
- I can’t choose one specific possession, but rather a category of one-- cards/letters written to me from my family. I am about to sound like an 80 year old, but with constant access to others via text, email, or social media, people aren’t in the business of sending each other cards these days.
It is such a simple gesture that can have such an incredible impact on another person and I think it is highly overlooked as such. My mom was amazing at taking the time to send cards to whoever was on her heart that day to let them know she was thinking about them. The cards I have from my mom are obviously incredibly special to me-- they contain her handwriting and the only words I am able to revisit that were meant specifically for me.
I can hear her voice again when I read them and be reminded of her ability to send the right card at just the right time. My sister inherited this gift from her and I have kept almost every card my sister has sent to me as well. This goes for cards from my husband too. There is just something about being able to read a card and be transported back to what was happening at that point in time or be reminded of how much someone else cares about you.
It is always good for my soul to read these cards and letters, even when what is remembered is painful or triggering or accompanied by tears.
Traveling is my life, and has also saved my life. It shows the beauty of other cultures. Tell me a story of your favorite travel moment…
- When I was 14 I was lucky enough to go on a trip through Europe through the Girl Scouts (I know, I know, but my mom was v. into it and therefore I was forced *ahem* I mean persuaded.. into the GS life too). My mom was raising two girls on her own and it was important to her that we experience other countries and cultures, and for her this was financially the best way to make that happen for us. I poke fun at how I got there and the khaki on khaki uniform (yes, I’m serious) that I had to wear for parts of the trip, but I am so insanely grateful to my mom for making it happen.
In my opinion I was a little young to truly appreciate the experience and I definitely have hopes of going back, but looking back it was an incredible trip that exposed me to other people and cultures that I didn’t even know existed.
My favorite travel moment was during this trip and happened in Lucerne, Switzerland. Lucerne is situated right on Lake Lucerne and is absolutely gorgeous. I remember sitting on the edge of the lake with mountains all around us, dotted here and there with little clusters of homes, sun shining, and eating my very first piece of Swiss chocolate.
My 12 year old mind was totally blown by how stunning it was and truly felt like I was sitting right in the middle of a post card.
Funny side note: I will also always remember Switzerland because that is where we were when NSYNC released their new album that year and since we were 14 year old girls in a big NSYNC/boy band phase (but NSYNC > BSB FOREVER) and discmans were still a thing, we were so excited to purchase their new CD abroad. Actually, the process of buying said CD in Lucerne also has a funny little story that we talk about to this day.
I am a tall gal, coming in at just under 6’ and while I wasn’t quite that tall at 12, I was certainly very tall for my age. My best friend Dana, who was also on the trip, is now 6’2” so you can imagine that she was also very tall for her age and surpassed me by a few inches back then also. While we were checking out at the music store, the employee started some small talk about our trip and what group we were there with, so we told him and he replied, “You must be the biggest Girl Scouts in the world!” LOL. Cue me wanting to disappear into oblivion.
At 12/13 we were already very self-conscious about our height, so add that to being on a trip with the Girl Scouts as a teenager and you can imagine how mortified we were. I’m sure he meant well...right? We even have a picture with him and our newly purchased NSYNC CDs in our scrapbook....and you guessed it, he is about a solid 6” shorter than us.
In another life, what are you doing…
- I know in my bones I was made to be a nurse, but in the past 7 years or so I have really come to be passionate about DIY and my home, so maybe in another life I would be someone who renovates/flips homes. Not quite a contractor, but someone who can do some design and also some of the hands-on building/creating for home renovations. I know that it can sound superficial saying that I am passionate about the way my home looks, but not in a ‘oh look at my house, its so pretty/look at what I have’ kind of way.
It is much more about how my home FEELS to me and my family and how well it reflects who we are and how it functions for us. I also really love the feeling of being able to look at a room that I designed or something that I built and knowing that I am the one that did it. It definitely gives me another type of pride in my home.
I hope to someday purchase a property that needs some love and make it a rental property or something of the sort and be able to maybe do this kind of thing a little on the side.
What is your greatest accomplishment…
- Easily my children. I know that is such a cliché thing to say, but successfully carrying and bringing healthy children into the world is honestly an incredible feat when you stop to think of all of the tiny miracles that have to occur in order to create another viable human life. Of course I cannot take all of the credit for them- they were formed by a higher power than me. But birthing, taking care of, and raising these little people has been/is both my greatest accomplishment and greatest challenge.
I know it may sound premature to use the word accomplishment in reference to raising my children because it implies completion and they are still so young and I still have a lot of raising to do. But in parenthood, each day that you and your little people survive, and some days thrive, is an accomplishment. I have been through some really tough, challenging, hard things.
But being a parent is absolutely the most difficult thing I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and wouldn’t trade my kiddos for anything, but DAMN is it hard. So I take literally any small victory or accomplishment I can get until I know that I have raised them to be kind, respectful, hard-working, empathetic adults and can truly claim the biggest accomplishment of all.
What is your biggest fear…
- If I am being 100% transparent and honest, it is the sudden and premature death of my husband, children, or sister. This fear definitely stems from my trauma and anxiety and it has a tendency to creep up on me and make me totally irrational. Like when my husband is away from home and doesn’t answer his phone the first time I call (heaven forbid!), my brain and body immediately react as if he is lying in a ditch somewhere, never considering that he maybe didn’t hear his phone or that he is in the middle of a conversation, or literally anything else that is way more logical. I’m working on it, but sheesh, anxiety can be a real bitch sometimes.
What is your biggest regret…
- My biggest regret is never having the chance to tell my mom how incredible she was and how much I appreciated her. She died very suddenly when I was 22 and I was just getting to a point in my life where I was growing up a bit and reflecting on our lives and realizing just how truly amazing and unbelievable she was. My mom was a single mother of two girls from the time I was 8 with absolutely zero help from our father. She was a teacher and often worked two jobs to ensure my sister and I got what we needed.
We definitely didn’t have a lot, but to be honest we didn’t know for a long time because she sacrificed everything to make sure that there was money to participate in any extracurricular or sport that we wanted. Being a mom myself, I realize how difficult it is to raise children, and I have the privilege of having a wonderful, hands-on partner to help me.
I truly cannot comprehend how she did all that she did and I wish I could have told her how much she meant to me, that I now understand just how hard she worked for us, and that I appreciate the mom she was to me more than words can express.
What do you do for work… and why…
- I am a nurturer and caregiver to my core, and not surprisingly these character traits led me to nursing. I began my nursing career in the adult neuro world and learned so much, but knew my heart was in pediatrics. Within a year I landed my dream job in the Pediatric ICU at Cincinnati Children’s and could not have loved it more.
The PICU is this unique and incredible place where triumph and heartbreak, steep learning curves and gut feelings, resilience and exhaustion, joy and devastation, teamwork, and passion all exist together and often within hours (sometimes seconds) of each other to form this place that is unlike any other. Of course when I told people where I worked, I got lots of, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know how you do it” or “I could NEVER do that- isn’t it so sad?” or “Ugh, I like kids too much to work in a place like that.” It always bothered me because people just don’t understand- but I also know that it’s a place that you absolutely cannot understand without being a part of it.
Sure, I have been a part of many, many sad stories. But more so, I was a part of some really amazing ones in which my patients totally defied the odds and had outcomes that were frankly unexplainable.
I also had the privilege of being part of some very sacred moments, and I think if you ask most nurses what the best part about being a nurse is, they will cite those sacred moments with patients and their family that many people do not get to experience.
After working at Cincinnati Children’s for almost 4 years, we moved from Cincinnati to Columbus and I worked in the PICU at Nationwide for just over a year before we moved back to our hometown.
Moving back to our hometown and away from a larger city, I no longer had the opportunity to work at a children’s hospital and had to really wrestle with what the rest of my nursing career was going to look like. So now I am back in school (again), finishing up my Post-Masters Family Nurse Practitioner certificate and hopefully a year from now will be working as a provider in the area! Fingers crossed!
What was your first tattoo...
- My first tattoo was an anchor on my right foot. I was a senior in college and I remember my mom being so hesitant when I told her I was thinking about getting it. I reassured her that it was going to be small and yes, I was sure that I wanted it on my body for the rest of my life ;) I chose an anchor for a few reasons.
One, I was in a sorority in college and our symbol was an anchor. I know, I know, that sounds SO basic and lame. But to be totally honest, joining that sorority halfway through my freshman year was one of the best decisions I could have made. Sororities tend to get a bad rap, but those girls gave me a home away from home and some of my best friends to this day.
Reasons two and three kind of go hand in hand. I was raised by a single mother who worked her ass off to provide for my sister and me, all while constantly being involved in ALL THE THINGS, and being an actual anchor and safe place for not only us, but many others as well. My mother was also quite the sun goddess and lover of water of any kind, so the anchor was appropriate to reflect that aspect of her and our family. Once my mom saw the finished product, she wanted a matching one! ☺
If you had the ear of everyone in the world, what would you say to them...
- Be gentle and kind with one another. The recent years have left our country in such a state of divisiveness, aggression, fear, and unrest-- of course with 2020 being the culmination of these things, and it is such a difficult way to live.
My hope is that we can recognize all that is broken and begin making strides to better ourselves, our communities, our country, and ultimately our world.
Michelle and Lance... Amazing humans!
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